Volcanos of

New Zealand 2007

by Richard Roscoe


in deutsch

New Zealand not only offers a variety of volcanic landscapes but also a number of different penguin species.  Consequently, in Nov. 2007, both N and S Islands were visited over a 3 week period.

The N island presents a number of historically active volcanoes as well as several interesting geothermal areas which have been a focus of tourist attention for more than a century.  Rotorua provided a good initial base for exploring these landscapes.  Rotorua has its own geothermal area with the Pohutu geyser (Fig.1), yet more attractive geothermal areas can be visited by driving south along the road towards lake Taupo, including Wai-O-Tapu and the Waimangu Valley Geothermal area.  Further, it is possible to organize helicopter transport to White Island Volcano from the waterfront of Lake Rotorua.


White Island (Fig.2a) is nearly 50km off the coast of the N island in the Bay of Plenty.  Activity during the visit was merely fumarolic, yet an eruption is considered overdue.  A hot acidic lake fills one of the craters (Fig.2b).  Remnants of a long-abandoned sulphur-mining operation can also be seen on the island.


On returning from White Island it was possible to fly over the summit of Mount Tarawera Volcano (Fig.3a), which was bisected by a part of a 17km long fissure formed during the massive Plinian eruption of 1886.  This eruption destroyed the famous Pink and White sinter terraces in Lake Rotomahana (Fig.3b).  The Waimangu Valley Geothermal area is also a result of this eruption.  Whilst it cannot match the famous terraces, a stroll through the area is certainly interesting and takes one past the site of the Waimangu geyser (Fig.3c), which was active from 1900-1904 and was the largest geyser recorded.


Wai-O-Tapu geothermal area, located on the flank of Reporoa caldera, is the most colourful in NZ.  Various hot springs and sinter terraces (Fig.4abc) can be seen, as can mud pools (Fig.4d), and the Lady Knox geyser (Fig.4e) which is artificially induced to erupt every morning by throwing soap powder into it



Further south, one finds the Tongariro massif, including the Ngauruhoe cone (Fig. 5a, 5b) and Ruapehu volcano (Fig. 6a, 6b).  These were initially overflown, and then also viewed from the Tama Lakes trail.  Major activity at Ruapehu was last observed between 1995 and 1996, although sporadic explosive events such as in September 2007 occasionally occur.  The active crater of Ruapehu contains a warm lake which may be partially or completely expelled during eruptions.  Ngauruhoe cone was last active in 1975 and appears to have entered into an unusually long period of quiescence since then.




See Photovolcanica.com for more pictures and detailed background information on White Island, Tarawera, Wai-O-Tapu, Tongariro und Ruapehu.

The S Island has little recent volcanic features to offer, yet is host to a variety of penguins and other marine wildlife.  On the W coast near Haast it is possible to see the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin (Fig.7a, e) on e.g. Monroe Beach.  The even rarer Yellow-Eyed Penguin (Fig.7d) can be seen in several reserves on Otago Peninsula on the E coast.  The E coast also provides opportunities for seeing Blue Penguins (Fig.7c) e.g. at Oamaru, and the White-flippered subspecies (Fig.7b) thereof near Akaroa on Banks Peninsula.



Apart from its wildlife, the S island is maybe not spectacular for people who have already seen alpine landscapes, glaciers and Fiords elsewhere.  Nevertheless, the Island is more tranquil than the more densely populated N Island and is certainly equally worth visiting.

For more photos and information about penguins

jump to Photovolcanica.com 



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©2008 Photos und Text by R..Roscoe (rr) last modification 08.3.2008

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